March 7, 2021

Laurentino Cortizo swears as president of Panama with a call to unity

Laurentino Cortizo was inaugurated on Monday, president of Panama for the period 2019-2024, in a ceremony with the presence of Ibero-American dignitaries in which he made a strong call for unity to fight corruption, poverty and lay the foundations of a new country .

"I swear to God and to the country to faithfully fulfill the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Panama," said Cortizo, 66, before receiving the presidential sash from the president of the unicameral National Assembly (AN), his co-religionist from the historic Revolutionary Party. Democratic Party (PRD), Marcos Castillero

With a firm tone, the new president and former Minister of Agriculture called for national unity to face the "monumental challenges" that Panama has to face inequality and poverty.

"There is no room for indifference" with the less favored, said Cortizo, who reiterated his message of a frontal fight against corruption that, he said, has drained resources for the education and health of Panamanians in the last decade.

Corruption, Cortizo said during a speech of about 25 minutes, "rob us all," Panamanians "intoxicated patronage, disrespect the separation of powers," said the exlegislador PRD.

"Public funds are sacred (…) we will do without stealing," said Cortizo, who said that in his administration "there will be no untouchables, starting with the president" of the country and announced the immediate implementation of a policy of austerity.

He reminded the officials of the judicial system that "they owe their country and their own conscience, not to political or economic pressures and less" from the president, because it is necessary to "restore effective justice".

The new leader affirmed that he knows how to "work hard, with organization and discipline" and was reiterated in the request that "everyone, without conditions" should help him to recover the country.

Cortizo announced that this same July he will present to the Parliament, where his PRD and the ally Molirena control 40 of the 71 seats, "the basic proposal" for a constitutional reform, one of his main campaign promises.

He said that he inherits public finances in a "worrying" situation and that having all the information that allows a complete diagnosis will inform the country about the strategy to relaunch the economy, which entered more than five years ago in a period of deceleration.

"I am optimistic", said the president to close his speech, in which he also announced that this month he will propose a reform to the law of public procurement "to guarantee transparency and clear rules", a law of public-private partnerships "to facilitate works for development "and another to provide credits to entrepreneurs.

"We will leave a legacy of foundations, the pillars of a different and better country," said Cortizo.

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